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Blyth Spartans name EFL legend as new sporting director as part of landmark takeover

Blyth Spartans name EFL legend Steve Howard as their new sporting director as part of Irfan Liaquat’s landmark takeover at the club.

Their ambitious plans Investment company Winners Worldwide includes setting their sights on the Football League Club with fans invited to meeting and to give thoughts on their five-year vision.

An emotional day especially for Tony Platten as he retires as the owner of Blyth Spartans having been involved with the club since 2000.

They currently sit 15th in the National League North table with 42 points from 34 games played, 7 points above the drop zone and 12 points from the playoffs.

CLUB STATEMENT:

New Club chairman Irfan Liaquat, of Winners Worldwide, has pledged to unlock huge potential and deliver league football to Blyth Spartans and the Northumberland town for the first time.

Irfan, a Tyneside-based businessman, angel investor and philanthropist, outlines a five-year plan that includes:

Striving for success โ€“ the CLub will be resilient and keep moving forward

Championing the local community through a programme of education and engagement

Connecting new fans and old by creating a safe, welcoming and inclusive space at Croft Park

Investment in key areas on and off the field โ€“ developing a winning mentality and building on the values and ethos of Blyth Spartans

Maintaining tradition and respecting heritage as the Club prepares to celebrate its 125th anniversary

Irfan commented this afternoon: โ€œBlyth Spartans is the most famous non-league Club in the world. We are surrounded by a fantastic community. We want to get out of this tier as a matter of urgency.

โ€œWe will spend money but we wonโ€™t spend it like itโ€™s going out of fashion. We know what we need to do and we will get to work instantly. There are exciting times ahead and you will see exactly what we need to do.

โ€œIโ€™ve been here as a fan and it took me five minutes to decide this is what I want. Iโ€™m looking forward to engaging with supporters.โ€

Irfan has appointed former Premier League striker Steve Howard as the Clubโ€™s new sporting director. Steve, a former Derby County, Leicester City and Luton Town player has already started working alongside Jon Shaw to shape the Spartansโ€™ squad of the future.

New board members include business development specialist Benice Taylor, Blyth-born education specialist Richard Kirkby, sales and risk management expert Craig Ridley and Colin Blackett โ€“ recently appointed as managing director (operations) by the outgoing owners.

A Q&A event for supporters will take place in the social club this evening at Croft Park and the new owners have made available thousands of free tickets ahead of Saturdayโ€™s National League North clash against Boston United.

Irfan Liaquat said, per Mark Carruthers: โ€œCommunity at heart of this football club. We canโ€™t stress the importance of that and Iโ€™ve briefed my team on that. We are the community and they are us.

โ€œInvestment required on and off the pitch. We have enthusiasm and a winning mentality.

โ€œIโ€™ve built a strong team. Weโ€™ve had key, inspiration people help us put this together and everyone is equally excited.

โ€œSteve is sporting director, he will work alongside Jon Shaw to work on the team. His football brain and business brain speak volumes. Know what we need to do.

โ€œBlyth Spartans is the most famous non-league club in the world. We are surrounded by a fantastic community. We want to get out of this tier as a matter of urgency.

โ€œWe will spend money but we wonโ€™t spend it like itโ€™s going out of fashion. We know what we need to do and we will get to work instantly. There are exciting times ahead and you will see exactly what we need to do.

โ€œIโ€™ve been here as a fan and it took me five minutes to decide this is what I want. Looking forward to engaging with supporters.โ€

Shaw: โ€œIโ€™ve worked at a club with a rapid growth plan and Iโ€™m excited for the fans here. My job is on the grass and Iโ€™m a big believer in where Irfan and Steve are coming from. Fans have been under it for the last four or five years. They survived. This leads to the next step.

โ€œIt will be a slow burner. Itโ€™s a tough level. It wonโ€™t happen overnight but I have no doubt with the message sent out, we will see improvements.โ€

Howard: โ€œSeen the plans for the club and community and itโ€™s something I want to be involved in. The plans for the next five years can take the club to the next level.

โ€œThis whole concept is something I couldnโ€™t turn down.โ€

HOWARD’S CAREER:

Youth career
1994โ€“1995 – Tow Law Town

Senior career
1995โ€“1999 – Hartlepool United – 164 games (32 goals)
1999โ€“2001 – Northampton Town – 95 games (18 goals)
2001โ€“2006 – Luton Town – 228 games (103 goals)
2006โ€“2008 – Derby County – 72 games (20 goals)
2008โ€“2012 – Leicester City – 169 games (32 goals)
2012โ€“2013 – Hartlepool United – 45 games (3 goals)
2013 โ†’ Sheffield Wednesday (loan) – 8 games (1 goal)
Total – 781 games (209 goals)

International career
2007 – Scotland B – 1 game (1 goal)

Honours
Individual
PFA Team of the Year: 2004โ€“05 League One
Football League One Player of the Month: August 2004

Luton Town
Football League One: 2004โ€“05

Derby County
Football League Championship play-offs: 2006โ€“07

Leicester City
Football League One: 2008โ€“09

This is what users on Twitter are saying as Blyth Spartans name EFL legend player Steve Howard as new sporting director as part of a landmark takeover for the club…

@BossingBertie: Fingers crossed ๐Ÿคž Thanks to Tony Platten & Co for keeping the club alive when it desperately needed it and the rollercoaster ride since.

@BlythsGreenArmy: Worth noting that Tony always said he wouldnโ€™t give the club up to just anyone. Had to be to the right people with the right plan. I very much doubt heโ€™s sold the club without doing proper due diligence.

@DanRolls7: What a fucking day man! Makes the struggles over the last 5 years worthwhile. #HowayBlyth ๐ŸŸขโšช๏ธ

@TempleViper: Never thought I would see the day, but on to better things #HowayBlyth

@ChrisVesseyCUFC: 100% this will end in tears. When will these Clubs learn!?

@Sam1879_: Blyth to league two ๐Ÿคฉ

@danhumee10: 5 years of relegation fights , on to better things hopefully ๐ŸŸขโšช๏ธ

@19hill72: Hopefully stay up then build on it next season

@tylerjamez2001: As much as I don’t like youse, I hope to god that this doesn’t end up like a Cala situation for us because of first impressions this looks questionable at least.

@neil_pattinson7: Blyth Spartans on the charge!

@LRbix: I smell other Cala situation pending here for some reason..

@dom_33: Great news for Blyth Spartans & North East football ๐Ÿ‘ exciting times

@danielbeaney_: The North East is just better.

@luispafc: Spartans are massive

@Grimmy16: Wow #HowayBlyth

@PeartBlyth: Very good onwards and upwards

@HParkz10: Massive this ๐Ÿ‘

@atjg__: Massive this, exciting stuff.

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